Aug 16, 2007

Presidential Candidates Respond to Seven Key National Security Questions

Judyth Piazza,
Council for a Livable World today released responses to seven critical questions on national security issues that were posed to all declared presidential candidates from both parties. Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson responded to the Council's questionnaire. Their responses exhibited noteworthy unity while differing on some important details.

The seven questions were on reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles, new nuclear weapons, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Iraq, space weapons, nuclear non-proliferation, and negotiating with Iran and North Korea.

Senator Gary Hart, chairman of Council for a Livable World and a longtime expert on arms control and security issues, found more agreement than disagreement in the responses. "What struck me most is the degree to which these candidates passionately seek to reverse the failed policies of the current administration that have undermined U.S. leadership and made us less safe," Hart remarked.

Council for a Livable World submitted its questionnaire to all Democratic and Republican declared presidential candidates. Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, along with all of the Republican candidates, did not return the Council's questionnaire.

Christopher Dodd endorsed all of the Council's positions with one word responses, choosing neither to explain nor equivocate. The other candidates offered detailed explanations, leaving numerous shades of gray that offer valuable insight into their priorities and how they will implement them if elected.
[Read the full article here]

The questions and each candidate's full response are available here. For example, this is Richardson's statement on RRW:
We do not need a new generation of nuclear weapons. I was Energy Secretary under President Clinton. My department was responsible for the design, manufacture, and maintenance of our stockpile of nuclear weapons. These weapons are not abstractions to me: to see one of them is to be astounded that millions of deaths can be compressed into such a tiny package. To know intimately our nuclear arsenal is to know intimately how our species could destroy itself. Under my administration, we will lead the world toward the reduction of nuclear arsenals, not their augmentation.


Anonymous said...

The Japan Times
August 17, 2007

U.S. film on A-bomb witnesses debuts


NEW YORK (Kyodo) A documentary by Academy award winner Steven Okazaki recently premiered across America on the Home Box Office television service, shedding new light on the double atomic bombings some 62 years ago, when the United States targeted Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, in an effort to bring the war to an end in 1945.

Okazaki's highly acclaimed 86-minute "White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" depicts both sides of the story, with narratives by 14 hibakusha and four Americans, including Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped "Little Boy" over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

" 'White Light/Black Rain' was such a wonderful film to see both sides of the story," said Yumi Tanaka, executive producer of the first-ever New York Peace Film Festival, which highlights films and performing arts related to the bombings.

The Yokohama native, who lives in New York, was struck by the unusual stories of the victims, including Shigeko Sasamori, one of the "Hiroshima Maidens," as well as the Americans, who offered their insights.

Although Tanaka was raised in Japan, she had never heard about the 25 "maidens" until recently. The young victims of the bombing were brought to the United States in 1955 to receive reconstructive surgery. Their experiences were cleverly interwoven into the documentary through old black-and-white footage, which captured their dramatic arrival and guest appearances on an American television program.

Interviews with Van Kirk, Morris Jeppson, a weapons test officer aboard the Enola Gay, Lawrence Johnston, a civilian employee of the University of California managing Los Alamos, and Harold Agew, a scientific adviser, also reveal other points of view.

Overwhelmingly, the elderly men candidly spoke about their past involvement and believed the bombs were a necessity at that time.

Old photos of the then young men and other archival materials were also well utilized in presenting the leadup to the bombings.

Sasamori, a dominant force in the film who passionately spoke out in English against A-bombs, was 13 and playing with a friend when they saw the B-29 drop "something white" overhead. While she survived, her friend did not make it.

In the film she described her face after exposure to the fallout, saying it was "like a black ball." She calmly explained how her father cut away her singed hair and badly damaged skin.

She eventually underwent more than 30 operations, was later adopted by an American family and moved to the United States, where she still lives.

While Sasamori and Van Kirk hold dramatically differing opinions about the bombings, they both appeared together in June when the film screened in New York at the Asia Society.

"Steve's movie is (a) very, very good education for everybody, not just to America and Japan, but all over the world," Sasamori said, noting that dropping A-bombs on humans is "not (an) answer to end the war faster."

From his point of view, Van Kirk, now 86, explained that "we were right" to use the bombs because 10,000 to 20,000 people were being killed every week during the war.

"Something had to stop the killing," he said, but added, "I hope nuclear weapons are never used again."

Although the debate has been going on for more than six decades, Sara Bernstein, HBO's director of documentary programming, said the film's purpose was to acknowledge what happened and present the survivors' tales.

"What the film does so brilliantly is it takes the two incidents and really shows the aftermath," she said. "As you watch the film, along with being an incredible tale of survivorship and what it means to really survive, I think it also is really very much a cautionary tale of what could come if we as a globalized culture are not careful."

For other viewers, like Matthew Rogers, a 22-year-old who grew up in Hawaii but currently lives in New York City, he found the narratives "remarkable and moving."

As someone familiar with Japanese culture after living in Kyoto and having visited Hiroshima, he was still surprised by the degree to which the hibakusha remained burdened by their atomic bomb experiences, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well.

"It was something profound and heavy that they carried with them every day," he said. "I was also struck by how alone they seemed." As the film pointed out, they face discrimination and rarely share their stories, so they tend to suffer in silence.

Rogers thought the film was also valuable as an educational tool — to better present the history of the bombings. In the United States, he said, it is often only briefly touched upon in school books and "laid out in stark terms."

"The powerful narratives of the survivors in this documentary highlighted the need to reflect upon these huge political/military decisions in human terms," he noted.

Okazaki was first inspired by the subject matter in 1980 when he encountered atomic bomb survivors in California and was puzzled by films produced at that time that failed to include their voices.

"I wanted to tell one of the great human stories of one of history's monumental tragedies," he said. After meeting more than 500 survivors and interviewing more than 100, he finally settled on the final 14, which also included a Korean woman, who attributed her six miscarriages and other ailments to the bomb.

"The personal memories of the survivors are amazing, shocking and inspiring. They put a human face on the incalculable destruction caused by nuclear war," he said.

The documentary premiered Aug. 6 and is to be shown 21 times on the HBO brand until the end of September.

The Japan Times: Friday, Aug. 17, 2007

Anonymous said...

Bill Richardson,

We have not forgotten that you screwed us in 2000.


Anonymous said...

If Bill Richardson thought it would advance his political career, he would vote to shut down all the weapons labs. Same goes for Tom Udall, but that one is even harder to comprehend.

Only Domenici and Wilson seem to give a damn about protecting NM's labs and the good jobs they offer. It might be well to remember that when you go to vote at the polls next year.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Domenici the piece of work that just cost us our UCRP retirement. To hell with him.

Anonymous said...

We did not need Bill Richardson as energy secretary, we don't need him as governor, and we will never need him as president.

Anonymous said...

Don't ya just love good old Bill Richardson - he's sooo New Mexican! - living off the Government teat and can't survive without it :)

Anonymous said...

No. 1:09 Domenici COULD NOT save the pension. The problem was bucket loads of bad press generating a collective feeling in congress that LANL is a big screw up. There are 12,000 employees here- but 'we' are held accountable for any one mistake. In its defence, DOE did try to duplicate the UC pension for the last 8,000 participants. Most people in corporate buyouts have fared much worse.

Udall is another story- I'm guessing that he agreed with the funding 'change' for LANL. But he should have offered an amendment to restore 400M funding on energy research. Even if this was voted down- we would know that he supported us.

Face it- LANL is an expensive albatross. In a nutshell, we cost far too much and work on things that the country has turned away from. Is this what you would do with 2 billion dollars?? The best stratgy is to be more productive on visible research that the populace cares about. (And we have to get Udall on our side- his implied indifference is embarrassing.)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if LA and LANL did not treat Udall like shit during his tenure as Attorney General and his first 6 years in Congress, he would care a bit more.

Anonymous said...

How about the basic one:

"Do we meet the minimum standard?"